I want to return to work – where do I start?
If you’ve taken a break from your career and are looking to get back to work, it can be hard to know what you need to do, what you might have missed and even where to look.
There are many reasons why people choose to take some time away from their careers. Looking after children is perhaps the most obvious; caring for ageing parents is something that’s on the increase.
The good news is, none of these should hold you back; with a bit of planning and preparation, you’ll be workplace ready before you know it. Here are some of the key things you should think about.
1. Be Clear About Your Career Goals
Start with clarifying your motivations to go back to work. Do you want to be a good role model for your children; do you want the status of a high-powered job; do you want or need to earn your own money? Returning to work after a career break is a great opportunity to consider what you really want to do, so think about what makes work enjoyable and fulfilling for you. If you are looking for flexibility to fit with your family life, think of all the different forms this could take rather than thinking part-time work is the only option.
2. Boost Your Confidence
Your self-confidence usually gets a knock during a long career break. Remind yourself of your strengths and achievements, before and during your break. Recognise and tackle your fears and doubts about returning to work. Remember that confidence comes from doing not thinking, so look for practical opportunities to regain your professional self, such as project work, or strategic volunteering if you’ve had a long break.
3. Refresh Your Skills and Knowledge
Get yourself back up-to-speed on your old industry (or learn about a new one) by completing professional courses through industry associations, attending workshops/seminars, signing up to relevant newsletters and meeting ex-colleagues. Stop worrying about your IT skills – take a course before you get back to work.
4. Be Strategic in your Job Search
Don’t fall into the trap of endlessly trawling online job boards looking for the right job and firing off scattergun CVs. If you’re looking for flexible work, look at social media, this is becoming a growing area for recruitment.
5. Grow and Use Your Network
Networking isn’t about approaching people and asking for a job. Networking is about making contact with people and is part of life – you do it at the school gates and in your local communities all the time. Take time to prepare a convincing and credible professional introduction first.
6. Hone Your CV
It’s likely that your CV needs updating, in terms of format and content. The point of a CV is to show others what you are capable of. So, highlight the headlines of your life, focusing on what you achieved in your roles not on your responsibilities.
7. Prepare for Interviews
Read books and articles, research the organisation and most importantly, practise. Don’t undersell yourself, this is not the time to be modest; take credit for your achievements and let your prospective employer see the best of you.
Source/Author: Caroline Cotterell, Director, HR Solutions Team